About 6 months ago, I became a mom.
I couldn’t imagine sacrificing teaching time with my teens, and I also couldn’t imagine sacrificing daytime fun with my son, so luckily, I have been fortunate to have the opportunity to teach part-time while I navigate this new world of parenthood.
This has afforded me an opportunity to make some interesting connections between my existing role as a teacher, and my new role as a mom. My day is split between two different environments with two very different age-groups, however, much of my day is actually spent doing the same thing. Well, not exactly the same, but my routines and daily activity are suspiciously analogous to one another.
It’s like I live 2 lives, but they are really different, yet similar, but different, yet still so similar!
Here are 5 of my many observations on the connections between teaching and parenting:
I’m A Super-Model! – I find I’m constantly modeling behavior that I want to elicit from both my son and my students. I show my son how to play with toys, how to eat, how to make noises, and he is always up for the task of doing as I am doing. It’s such a thrill to praise him when he succeeds, and to see him grinning from ear to ear with enthusiasm and self-worth. It’s the same in my classroom. Not only am I modeling mathematical reasoning, organization and critical thinking, but I model how to treat others with respect, and how to stay calm and focused in the face of adversity. It’s such a thrill to praise my students when they succeed, and to see them grinning from ear to ear with enthusiasm and self-worth. Hmm, where have I heard that before?
Smile At The World, And The World Smiles Back – My son’s Great-Grandparents gave him this excellent piece of advice months ago, and I couldn’t agree more. Creating a happy and calm environment, both at home and in the classroom, requires both a deep-breath and a smile. When I see my son, I smile, and he knows I’m happy to be with him. When I see my students, I smile, and they know I’m happy to be with them. Even if I’m not in the mood, I make it seem like I am, because I know that smiles can really go a long way in making someone’s day brighter and more positive.
Don’t Take It Personally – Sometimes, it’s just one of those things. No matter what you do or what you say…the baby is crying, or your students are annoyed, or your kids are distracted by something completely unrelated to you. It is what it is. I always tell myself: don’t take it personally! I just keep doing what I need to be doing in order to make the most of my time with my kids. Maybe I won’t get to teach my entire lesson this period. Perhaps I won’t get to read the book I picked out for this moment. It’s ok, because “after all, tomorrow is another day” (yes, I just quoted Gone With The Wind!)
Go With Your Gut – If you ask 50 teachers how to teach a particular topic, you could get 50 different answers. If you ask 50 moms how to handle a particular situation, you could get 50 different answers. They’re not necessarily right or wrong, but they are different! Students, babies, kids – they are all people. They are living, breathing, ever-evolving human beings. For either role, it’s an amazing thing to have a network of peers to reach out to, whether it be through family, friends, social media or other like-minded groups. And it’s a great method to brainstorm for different ideas, routines, products, and how to solve a particular problem. However, I really try to always go with my gut instinct. I am the mom/I am the teacher. This is my son/these are my students. I know what’s best. What worked for one, may not work for another. What works one day may not work the next day. Whenever I’ve gone with my gut, both as a mom and as a teacher, I’ve always been pleased with the result.
When In Doubt, Sing! – I sing ALL DAY LONG. One would think I was a choral teacher. Seriously! “Where do you come up with this stuff?” everyone asks me. Honestly, I just sing what comes to mind. And it sticks. My students remember steps/topics/facts through my wacky songs. My son remembers songs that I sing to him, as well. Plus it’s fun. And if you’re not having fun doing what you’re doing, well, come on, wouldn’t you rather have fun then not have fun?!
So there you have it. Some connections between teaching and parenting. Two “jobs” where constant learning and adaptation are paramount, and where knowing your audience is crucial. I guess, in sum, you could say that it’s my gut feeling to model good behavior by smiling and singing a song. And if things don’t necessarily go according to plan, I won’t take it personally!